At the worst moment in his life, Tim Mousseau’s mom told him the most beautiful thing he ever heard.
I was young. 15 to be precise, but the advice I received extended across a dark period in my life. I was in a place where things did not make much sense. Drugs, addiction. I was just beginning to learn to live in a world where my veins thrived a little but more fully when I gave in to the call of the siren I would later name substance abuse.
I lay on the floor of my parent’s garage, in a house I never felt like was my home. I lay there because, during the winter, it was the coldest place in the house. My skin waged a battle against withdrawals. I lay there because I burned up with the heat of a fever and in this fever, I found myself going insane. I lay there because I could no longer do this, what I was doing, but I was going to keep doing it if I did not stop myself. So I tried quitting cold turkey.
And my body suffered the consequences.
My mom, she found me in the garage. Laying there covered in the sweat generated by a thousand cells rebelling. Covered in a temperature of heat across my entire body. Touched by a Phoenix except I would not be reborn tonight. This rebirth would not happen for quite a few more years.
On tonight, I just burned and burned and burned. A roman candle when I should be a sparkler. I burned out like a volcano. Once I exploded there would be no coming back, once things imploded, there would be nothing more to happen.
She found me in the garage. She didn’t know what I was experiencing just yet. I did not tell her that night. Eventually, I would.
We talked that night. My body on fire, my world alight with Greek fire burning through the water of my veins.
She asked. “Tim, I need you to tell me, honestly, are you going to be okay?”
“Mom, I am not, I am not okay. I am not okay, and I don’t know when I am going to be.”
I repeated myself many a time this conversation.
“What is wrong, tell me, let me help you.” She pleaded with me, one of the first times she had to plead me for anything, usually I listened to her advice.
“I don’t think you can help me. I feel like I am going through hell, and no matter what you do, I don’t think I can get out of this place.”
At this point, she told me something meaningful, even if I did not realize it then.
“Tim, when you are going through hell, no matter how hard, when you are walking through hell, you have to make sure to just keep walking.”
She told me when you are going through hell you have to just keep walking. I respond honestly.
“I am so tired. I am so worn out. I am so exhausted. I am so tired. What happens when I cannot walk any further? Because I have been walking for so long.”
At this moment, she told me the most beautiful thing I have ever heard, the thing I will always remember, the thing that saved my life and the thing that made me a better man. This thing is why I will dedicate my first book to her. Why I will always be in her debt. Why I will always love her eternally. Why I am the person I am and why I do what I do.
I told her I was too tired. I had been walking through hell so long. I could not imagine walking any further. And she said.
“Tim, when you get too tired to walk, I will carry you.”
And carry me she did.
This was the best advice she gave me. Not that it was even advice. It was a form of reassurance. A way of convincing me not to give up. An intimate exploration of the idea I should not quit that night, laying on the floor of our garage, burning up, my body rejecting being clean and my heart quickened for the hopes that my next high would come much sooner. That night, I sat in a place where I was engaging in a personal battle, a war where I felt like I was walking through my personal hell. This night, it was not the first night like this. I had been here before. I had been here for months leading up to this point. For countless nights, I had found myself in this version of hell and had found myself collapsing under the weight of my pressure. Yet, this night, she told me something.
When I was walking through hell, she would carry me. And carry me she did.
The advice I came to realize from this statement is this: we are all human and at one point or another, we all experience a form of hell. The most human thing we can do for another, it is making sure that when someone is walking through hell, we are willing to carry them.
Never exist in a world where you are not willing to carry someone through their personal hell. And never exists in a world where you do not not have someone who will carry you if you are going through hell. Life means more than being alone. It means we support each other.
It means sometimes we carry each other. Because we have to. Because we must.
Because we can.
I owe my mom my life because that night, and many other nights, she carried me. The greatest thing you can ever do is carry someone else when they are going through something intimately terrible.
Know there are people in your life who need you, they need you to carry them. And no matter how difficult, how cumbersome it might be, for you to carry them, be willing to do just this, because they deserve to be carried. And you might be the last person who is willing to do this.
Carry each other. When it is hard. When no one else will. When everyone is wary. Carry each other. Because we are all human and at a certain point, we all deserve someone else carrying us. Carry each other. Because we can, because we must.